Fête Paradiso: Oui, s’il vous plait

vintage kiddie carousel

Fête Paradiso, a traveling vintage French carnival featuring an incredible collection of extremely rare artisan-crafted carousels, rides and games has just made landfall on cute, car-free Governor’s Island. A five minute ferry ride from downtown Manhattan transports families and Francophiles to this whimsical weekend fair that is set to run from now until September 29th.

We dropped in on Fête Paradiso this past Sunday to get a first-hand look at the world’s first festival of vintage French carnival rides and carousels and join in on their Bastille Day celebration. After a quick left off the ferry, we followed the sounds of a cheerful pipe organ to find the bygone-era amusements scattered throughout shady Nolan Park, fronted by a retro ticket booth ($25 buys you 10 tickets – good for 1 ride or 1 game each.) Festival staff rallied the crowd in character, with red scarves, berets and sailor stripes while children lined up to ride miniature replicas of tiny VW buses and hand painted ponies. An accordion player sang standards en Français under a restored 20th century bumper-car pavilion, repurposed as a picnic area for concessions that included bistro fare by Le Gamin alongside beer, blush-pink rose and half bottles of champagne.

You can thank collectors Francis Staub and Regis Masclet for bringing their private collection to life – and to NYC — for families to enjoy. A few of Fete’s highlights include the late 19th century bicycle carousel (one of only 2 bicycle carousels left in the world — the other, featured in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, is in France), a Chinese Dragon Carousel with a misleading name (though our daredevil 2 year old didn’t mind being whipped around fast and then backwards) and a ball-toss game with life-size caricatures of Charlie Chaplin and Edith Piaf called the Music Hall Ball Guzzler.

 Fête Paradiso: Oui, sil vous plait

Music Hall Ball Guzzler

 Fête Paradiso: Oui, sil vous plait

live music in the restored 19th century bumper car pavilion

 Fête Paradiso: Oui, sil vous plait

Fete Paradiso carousel

Getting there:
Governors Island Ferry from the Battery Maritime Building
corner of South and Whitehall Streets

Fête Paradiso
Open on weekends, 10:30am – 6:30pm
Now until Sept 29th, 2013
Free admission, tickets for rides and games are $3 each

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